Agenda and minutes

All meetings are now webcast via Youtube at this link

Venue: Warspite Room, Council House

Contact: Helen Rickman, Democratic Advisor 

Media

Items
No. Item

20.

Informal Meeting

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair advised Members that the meeting was being held remotely via Microsoft Teams due to the required deep clean of the Council House and the increase in positive Covid 19 cases, therefore was technically inquorate. The meeting was to be conducted on an informal basis and the minutes of the meeting, as well as any decisions, were required to be submitted to the next meeting for formal ratification.

21.

Declarations of Interest

Councillors will be asked to make any declarations of interest in respect of items on the agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest in accordance with the code of conduct.

22.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 181 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 22 September 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members agreed the accuracy of the minutes of the meeting held on 22 September 2021; these minutes would be required to be submitted to a future meeting for formal ratification.

 

 

23.

Chair's Urgent Business

To receive reports on business which in the opinion of the Chair, should be brought forward for urgent consideration.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no items of Chair’s urgent business.

24.

Policy Brief pdf icon PDF 148 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Alan Knott (Policy and Intelligence Advisor) presented the Policy Brief and advised Members that it contained key announcements in relation to legislation and policy change:

 

·        

the Environment Act became law – it would be driven by new legally binding environmental targets and enforced by a new independent Office for Environmental Protection (known as the OEP) to hold Government and other public bodies to account on their environmental obligations;

 

·        

the Department for Education had produced new guidance on the Education Act 2021 requiring schools to make uniforms affordable to all and for parents to get the best value for money;

 

·        

the Chancellor announced new requirements for businesses to set out their green credentials to potential investors and the roadmap to sustainable investing included rules which would apply to pension schemes, investment products, asset managers and were part of the Government’s reforms to create a greener financial system;

 

·        

there were new duties for Council’s to provide support and safe accommodation for victims of domestic abuse and this new regulation and guidance set out the support Councils were required to provide together with a requirement to work with partners such as the Police, local domestic abuse charities and published strategies on how they would provide support to victims by January 2022;

 

·        

the budget was announced in October 2021 and the core spending power for Councils was estimated to increase by approximately 3% in real terms – the Chancellor was providing Councils with £4.8b of new grant funding around social care and other services, and some headline announcements for Plymouth included £19.9m expansion of the George Park and Ride site through the levelling up fund, up to £50k to develop early stage proposals to reinstate passenger rail links between Tavistock and Plymouth through the restoring your railway ideas fund, and up to £90m for the new community forest in Plymouth and South Devon;

 

·        

in relation to housing and homelessness, a further £11m has been allocated to support 23 re-development schemes across 15 councils and Plymouth has been awarded £600,000 for five sites;

 

·        

in relation to the community renewal fund, the Government announced two successful bids for Plymouth: Plymouth Sound National Marine Park (£655,000), and Stonehouse Union (£552,000);

 

·        

Plymouth was awarded £165,000 to help support rough sleepers over winter;

 

·        

a consultation that came out following the publication of the Policy Brief regarding enhanced legal support for those facing eviction and repossession; it would close on 20 January 2022;

 

·        

there was a series of free workshops for elected members on investing in walking and cycling infrastructure projects; the Department for Transport was offering a programme between November and January  - the link was provided in the brief.

 

Members discussed:

 

·        

if Plymouth had the correct type of accommodation to support the victims of domestic abuse? Previously bed and breakfast accommodation was relied upon and this was not considered appropriate therefore was the Council in a position to adequately support those in need?

 

·        

in relation to the £65m support for vulnerable renters contained within the Policy Brief, how  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.

25.

Finance and Capital Monitoring Report September 2021 pdf icon PDF 632 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader (Councillor Nick Kelly) and Brendan Arnold (Service Director for Finance) presented the Finance and Capital Monitoring Report for September 2021 to Members.

 

Key points highlighted included:

 

·        

the report covered both the revenue forecasts and the capital position as at the end of September 2021 and were the same figures as those presented at full Council on the 22 November 2021 with the capital programme being voted through;

 

·        

the capital programme had been updated to reflect the newly approved schemes and full disclosure of the revenue savings targets and latest forecasts with regards to delivery. The forecast revenue outturn after the application of COVID grants and accounts or mitigating actions, was currently in overspend of £729k;

 

·        

the Customer and Corporate Services directorate, moved from an overspend of £1.185 million to £765k, and this positive movement was attributed to further vacancy management and treasury savings; the Director was continuing to explore further opportunities to manage this position;

 

·        

the Place Directorate was reporting an overspend of approximately £38,000 which was an adverse movement from month 5 where there was an underspend of £139k and this was due to the pressure on income targets, especially around car parking. Service areas were taking action to mitigate these additional costs and loss of income;

 

·        

the position of the additional costs and income lost due to COVID was currently showing a drawdown against grants of £16.562m; officers and members would work closely to manage the finances towards a balanced position at the end of the year;

 

·        

after the second quarter the Council was reporting achieved savings of just over £3m and savings on track of a further £6.41 million making a total of just under £9.5 million of the £13.845 million target savings for revenue; with regards to capital and the five year capital budget from 2021 to 2026 it was currently forecast at approximately £647.5m as at the 30 September 2021 and it's been adjusted to take into account the newly approved schemes and to adjust future funding assumptions.

 

Members discussed:

 

·        

the £420k saving in the Corporate and Customer Services directorate from £1.185m overspend down to £765k and how that would impact on the performance; it was responded that there was a significant downward variance due to the sensible and pragmatic judgments about the use of temporary staff

which was done in a way so that performance was not adversely affected. In addition the Directorate has tightened its belt in terms of expenditure and so there was not the same level of orders for some goods and services going through to bring the overspend under control;

 

·        

was the use of temporary staff more generally used across customer services and on what scale? It was responded that a written response could be provided however the Strategic Director of Customer and Corporate Services also covered finance, FM as well as customer services. The current vacancy rate across the department was in excess of approximately 6% of the establishment. The business support review that was started last  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.

26.

Corporate Plan Performance Report Q2 2021/ 22 - to follow pdf icon PDF 158 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader (Councillor Nick Kelly) and Andrew Loton (Senior Performance Advisor) presented the Corporate Plan Performance Report Q2 2021/22 to Members and highlighted the following key points:

 

·        

this was the second of the quarterly Corporate Plan Performance reports that was produced and it covered the period from July to September 2021;

 

·        

strong performance to date and some of the key areas of good performance in the report could be found on page 10 of the agenda pack. Specifically there was an improvement in the household waste collection for recycle, reduce or composting with an increase in quarter one of 21/22 to 37.3% and then a further increase in quarter two to 40.1% exceeding the target of 39%;

 

·        

the report was set out in a user friendly format to clearly showcase trends and performance and enable scrutiny to hold the executive to account.

 

Members discussed:

 

·        

the importance of performance indicators, RAG ratings and especially trend to clearly demonstrate the direction of travel. A brief explanation would also make it clear what was happening in each area of concern; it was responded that there was an indication of trend in the report however due to the amount of information linked to each area the information was instead summarised in order to give an overview. Officers would use feedback provided to consider how the information in future reports could be displayed to adequately provide the trend and detail required;

 

·        

how many families with children were being housed in bed and breakfast accommodation for more than two weeks? It was responded that families were a priority for the service and that information whilst not included in the report was available and would be provided to Members.

 

It was agreed that:

 

1.

Members note the content of the Corporate Plan Performance Report Q2 2021/22;

 

2.

information upon the numbers of families that were being housed in bed and breakfast accommodation for more than two weeks would be provided to Members.

 

 

 

27.

Bereavement Services Update pdf icon PDF 461 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Deacon (Cabinet Member for Customer Services, Culture, Leisure & Sport), Sarah Lees (Consultant in Public Health) and Karen Jennings (Head of Bereavement Services) presented the Bereavement Services Update to Members and highlighted the following key points:

 

·        

the fire in Efford cemetery in December 2019 emphasized the fact that the crematory provision in Plymouth required modernization; from March 2020, following a decision made by the portfolio holder, all funeral services in the city’s chapels had been live streamed free of charge. This continued whilst numbers were restricted because of covid19;

 

·        

saying goodbye to loved ones was a key part of mourning and one of the hardest challenges for the team was having to restrict the number of people permitted to attend funeral services;

 

·        

despite the many challenges the demand for funeral services had been met throughout COVID restrictions with no delay to waiting times; the fees charged for cremation had not increased in 2020-2021 despite entering into a pandemic with the increased expectation of deaths. Additional costs, such as webcasting had been met by COVID-19 grants;

 

·        

the key challenge with regard to the budget was the delivery of the capital programme for the new crematorium. Replacing the old equipment with new state of the art and environmentally friendly crematoria required finance and moving to a new location. The new facility would create bigger and better ceremony rooms, modern offices and a cafeteria.  Phase three was due to start in the New Year; once completed the buildings would go up fairly quickly with the whole project due to be completed by spring 2023.

 

Members discussed:

 

·        

the acknowledgement that profit should not be made from the crematorium service; how was this approached in the accountancy of the Council’s finances? It was responded that work was still ongoing as to different operating models for a financial solution however a detailed response would be provided via a confidential briefing note to Members;

 

·        

were there any differences to the plans for the new crematorium and cemetery? It was responded that the quality and the front of house services would not be affected that was value engineered out. Changing the design so that block work was used instead of precast concrete was a more cost effective approach and would save time.

 

It was agreed that –

 

1.

Members note the Bereavement Services Update;

 

2.

a confidential briefing note would be provided to Members on the accounting treatment for the crematorium services.

 

 

28.

Environment Bill Update - verbal

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Mrs Bridgeman (Cabinet Member for Environment and Street Scene) and Philip Robinson (Service Director for Street Services) provided a verbal update on the Environment Bill and highlighted the following key points:

 

·        

the Environment Bill had gained royal assent and was now the Environment Act;

 

·        

in the new year a joint briefing between Councillors Mrs Bridgeman and Dann would be scheduled to discuss the wider implications of the Environment Act – this would also be made available for all Members;

 

·        

the Environment Act was much wider than just waste and resources, it covered the areas of governance, environmental principles, water, nature, and air. One of the principles that underpinned the Act was that it would take pressure off local authorities and shift the cost to businesses;

 

·        

in terms of electronic waste tagging, products would carry resource efficiency labels;

 

·        

the intention was for the Council, where possible, to convert the fleet vehicles to electric or more environmentally friendly options.

 

Members discussed:

 

·        

the importance of Councillor Mrs Bridgeman as Cabinet Member for Environment and Street Scene, taking action to assess current business cases affected by the Environment Act contained appropriate procurement routes; it was responded that this was already being done;

 

·        

who was the Senior Responsible Officer for the oversight and implementation of work to come out of the Environment Act? It was responded that this would be specified in the written briefing provided to Members;

 

·        

what was the governance surrounding the Environment Act and the impact upon the Council? It was discussed that this should be considered by the Scrutiny Management Board so that further cross party scrutiny could take place.

 

It was agreed that –

 

1.

Members note the Environment Bill Update;

 

2.

a written report on the Environment Act and the implications for the Council would be provided to Members; this would also detail the senior responsible officer and governance structures;

 

3.

the Scrutiny Management Board should discuss the Environment Act at a future meeting in order to ensure that appropriate plans were in place to scrutinise the impact that this would have on Plymouth and the Council and it’s finances.

 

29.

Tracking Decisions pdf icon PDF 212 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members discussed the tracking decisions document and highlighted that information requested at previous meetings was still outstanding.

 

It was agreed that this information would be requested again.

30.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 148 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members discussed the draft work programme specifically regarding the customer services strategy as well as scrutiny into leisure services. It was highlighted that the work programme may need to be amended slightly to fit in scrutiny.  

31.

Exempt Business

To consider passing a resolution under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 to exclude the press and public from the meeting for the following item(s) of business on the grounds that it (they) involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph(s) 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act, as amended by the Freedom of Information Act 2000

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Agreed that under Section 100(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, to exclude the press and public from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part I of Schedule 12A of the Act, as amended by the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

32.

Commercial Waste Services

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members discussed the Commercial Waste Services report and noted the update.